Porirua-based GIS provider opts for onshore cloud services

NorthSouth GIS New Zealand says data sovereignty and cost transparency are top issues

Data sovereignty and cost transparency should direct cloud choices to onshore providers, says Porirua-based geographic information systems (GIS) solutions provider NorthSouth GIS New Zealand (NSG NZ).

The international award winning company (also known as Explorer Graphics Limited (EGL)), whose government and geotech clients access GIS services online, recently migrated its core GIS application to Revera in a five-year deal.

Scott Tansley, senior GIS consultant at NSG NZ, says client needs for data sovereignty ruled out Amazon-type cloud services platforms for the company’s hosted GIS offering.

“Overseas based cloud platforms are of no use to us, because data must be held locally,” he says.

“As more clients switch to online services you also require a detailed understanding of additional operating costs, as you scale up to meet demand. Visibility of specific cost components to correctly on-charge new and growing clients is also important.”

NSG NZ builds client interfaces and functionality on to the web-based mapping platform ArcGIS, developed by ESRI. The platform allows clients to add and manage cadastral information – things like property ownership, boundaries, and a multiplicity of infrastructural assets.

A five-year agreement has been signed with Revera for the provision of NZG NZ’s Esri-based GIS services and a growing 1.5 terabyte database.

Revera’s Tawa-based Homeland data centre near Porirua is one of four datacentres in a synchronised network in the North and South Islands.

NSG NZ currently draws on 27 virtual machine units (VMUs) from Revera’s Virtual Data Centre (VDC) utility computing platform, with additional VMUs being added as client demands grow.

“Getting the right specification is another factor,” Tansley says. “The cost efficiencies of utility computing disappear when capacity is over-specified. Over-specified computing means over-paying.

“Like just-in-time inventory management, on-demand computing has to be flawless. There’s no margin for irregularity. When clients want extra capacity we’ve got to give it to them quickly.”

Over the next year, NSG NZ plans to double employee numbers to more than 40 as it makes its online GIS platform available to partners around the world.

In 2010, NSG NZ and NSG Group partner NorthSouth GIS US delivered an award-winning enterprise GIS solution to the Port of Los Angeles, a project that received the American Association of Port Authorities award for the best information communication technology project.

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